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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

Tripawds is the place to learn how to care for a three legged dog or cat, with answers about dog leg amputation, and cat amputation recovery from many years of member experiences.
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older, larger canine front leg amputee furkids.
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Forum Posts: 34
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7 December 2015 - 2:40 pm
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Hello:

We are new to tripawds.com and new to parenting a tripawd furkid.  Our 11 year and 7 month old Golden Retriever, Bacon, was diagnosed with arthritis in his left front elbow in July 2015.  His pain persisted and became increasingly concerning.  We tried Rimydal (negatively impacted liver so had to stop), Tramadol (not much effect so stopped), Adequan injections, Dasuquin, Duralactin, fish oil caplets, and Gabapentin (made him so drowsy and unbalanced we stopped).  

In researching arthritis, I found some types may be improved through arthroscopic surgery.  This led us to Michigan State University Monday November 30, 2015 and a potential dx of bone cancer.  Not what we expected and totally devastating.  We were told if we did nothing he had 3 months to live.  In that time, he would most likely fracture his leg as the bone was so fragile.  We had one needle biopsy that left Bacon in incredible pain and was non-conclusive.  The vet informed us that no matter what the dx he would need the leg amputated as the bone was so wasted and his pain so intense (he declined to toe touch status that week).  We had other testing done to ensure he was as cancer free in other regions as their testing would reveal (nothing is 100%) and that his other three joints were were as healthy as possible.  They gave him a clean bill of health and even noted he had no signs of arthritis.  Bacon underwent left front leg amputation Friday December 4, 2015.

We are scared and unsure of what to expect.  He needed to stay an extra day at the clinic due to refusing to get up.  He turned one corner at 11pm Saturday night as the attending vet told us he finally got up and went outside to pee.  We were so happy to see he was ready to come home when we went Sunday for what we thought was only going to be a visit. Due to his standing and urinating Saturday night, we were able to take him home Sunday. Bacon appeared quite motivated to go home as he walked quite quickly to see us.  Once home he stood independently in the car when we stopped in the driveway.  He needed quite a lot of support via the handle on his help-me-up harness for walking to the yard. He is taking codeine, gabapentin, and previcox for pain.  They reduced his dose of gabapentin from 300 to 200mg but it still wipes him out.  We are keeping a milestone journal to keep mindful of his progress.   

Some good things:  

He will get up and walk independently to his food bowl which we keep at a close distance to him.  He will stand and re position himself for comfort.  He is very interested in his food and what we are eating.  He wags his tail when spoken to. He sought me out yesterday by getting up and walking a few feet until he saw me down the hallway at which time he laid down and kept an eye on me.  He tolerates the cold packs well. Although he has difficulty walking and standing for longer than a few minutes, he appears to be out of the pain he was experiencing with his leg intact.      

Some scary things (day 3):

His balance is quite affected.  He has not fallen but needs steadying sometimes during the day and naturally when on uneven surfaces such as the grass.  He will walk short distances but mostly requires forward pressure on his harness handle by us to move. He is gassy. He has not had a BM since Friday morning when we dropped him off.  He had a liquidy, very small BM discharge around his tail area today. He threw up a very small amount of water yesterday.  We are terrified to leave him alone.  

I have been told to be careful comparing his recovery to any other example.  It is difficult when you keep hearing that they (dogs) are so resilient and bounce back right away.  He is not bouncing back right away.  Like others have noted, we are fearful he will not recover and enjoy his life again.  We are confident in our choice to amputate as his pain was becoming unbearable for him and the bone so fragile we risked fracture but we do not want him to not be able to walk independently again.  He is a proud, rambunctious 11 year old. I fear we have taken the spirit out of him by following through with this.

I know we are very early in the process and my expectations may be too high.  We would like to hear from tripawd owners who also have experienced amputation with an elderly dog (specifically front leg amputation). How long did it take for your dog to gain balance and walk independently? We would like to hear any other things you experienced that may help. We cannot seem to get enough information.

Warmly,

Rebecca and Jason (Bacon’s parents).         

   

The Rainbow Bridge



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7 December 2015 - 3:05 pm
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Hi Rebecca, I’m so glad to see you here in the Forums! Hope you don’t mind I moved your post but this is a good place to share stories of older Tripawds. You’ll find many examples of senior dog Tripawds, like these “elderly” search results, and these “senior” search results.

I’m so glad he’s home! YAY! And I know how worried you must be. But based on what you described, his recovery sounds pretty darn normal, and even GREAT for a dog his age. We’ve seen a lot of recoveries here and Bacon’s sounds quite normal. Try to put yourself in his paws, as a human who just lost a leg, at age 70….try to imagine where you’d be right now and it will help you keep your expectations in check. I know it’s hard, we all want them to bounce back right away and be the dog bounding down the street after a ball. But with less than 1 week home, that’s a lot to ask. Right now what he needs is rest, and your calm optimism.

Have you seen Jerry’s Required Reading List or the Tripawds e-books library? Do check them out, I promise they will alleviate your worries. Also, here’s a great blog for you that really shows the progress an older Tripawd can make:

http://jacksonl…..pawds.com/

Stay tuned, others will chime in shortly.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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7 December 2015 - 5:23 pm
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jerry said
Hi Rebecca, I’m so glad to see you here in the Forums! Hope you don’t mind I moved your post but this is a good place to share stories of older Tripawds. You’ll find many examples of senior dog Tripawds, like these “elderly” search results, and these “senior” search results.

I’m so glad he’s home! YAY! And I know how worried you must be. But based on what you described, his recovery sounds pretty darn normal, and even GREAT for a dog his age. We’ve seen a lot of recoveries here and Bacon’s sounds quite normal. Try to put yourself in his paws, as a human who just lost a leg, at age 70….try to imagine where you’d be right now and it will help you keep your expectations in check. I know it’s hard, we all want them to bounce back right away and be the dog bounding down the street after a ball. But with less than 1 week home, that’s a lot to ask. Right now what he needs is rest, and your calm optimism.

Have you seen Jerry’s Required Reading List or the Tripawds e-books library? Do check them out, I promise they will alleviate your worries. Also, here’s a great blog for you that really shows the progress an older Tripawd can make:

http://jacksonl…..pawds.com/

Stay tuned, others will chime in shortly.

Thank you for always popping up when I need you most!  I read Jackson’s story and am wondering how he is doing.  Hoping his mom will respond to my inquiry.  

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7 December 2015 - 7:29 pm
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Bacons mom,

i am in the same boat and have questions as well.

Our English mastoid just turned 9 on Halloween 2015. He had bone cancer in his front left leg so we had made the des idiom to amputate. He is doing a lot of laying down hops to go potty, still hasn’t pooped! His surgery was also on Friday 12/4/15 but we had to take him home the same night. He’s been restless at night panting and crying, but he does have his appetite. A lot of swelling, we were in contact with the vet and were told it is normal and continue with cold compresses, still worried!

we just have to keep in mind we made the right descision for our furry babies, lots of lovin and attention.

this is me talking on a total of 6 hrs sleep in 3 days. But Maddox is always happy wagging his tail when someone comes in and greets him..

im sure I didn’t give you any helpful advise just wanted to share a little. 

Good luck in your recovery with Bacon

Livermore, CA




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7 December 2015 - 7:37 pm
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Welcome to Tripawds corrina, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.

Thank you for sharing your experience here.  I would encourage you to start your own thread so you can introduce your cancer warrior and ask any questions you have.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010

 

              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

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7 December 2015 - 8:02 pm
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corrina said
Bacons mom,

i am in the same boat and have questions as well.

Our English mastoid just turned 9 on Halloween 2015. He had bone cancer in his front left leg so we had made the des idiom to amputate. He is doing a lot of laying down hops to go potty, still hasn’t pooped! His surgery was also on Friday 12/4/15 but we had to take him home the same night. He’s been restless at night panting and crying, but he does have his appetite. A lot of swelling, we were in contact with the vet and were told it is normal and continue with cold compresses, still worried!

we just have to keep in mind we made the right descision for our furry babies, lots of lovin and attention.

this is me talking on a total of 6 hrs sleep in 3 days. But Maddox is always happy wagging his tail when someone comes in and greets him..

im sure I didn’t give you any helpful advise just wanted to share a little. 

Good luck in your recovery with Bacon

Thank you for responding, Corrina.  It is VERY helpful to have someone familiar with what we are experiencing.  Given that our furkids had surgery the same day, maybe we can exchange victories and defeats.  My stomach is a wreck today.  The emotional ups and downs are upsetting.  The one minute I see him making what I see as progress is followed by something upsetting.  We are in this for the long haul. Having this community has been so helpful.  

Good luck as well with your boy.  

Warmly,

Rebecca 

Virginia




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7 December 2015 - 9:56 pm
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Hi Bacon and his humans! Just goi g to give you the link (hopefull) to my first post here six days after amputation. The original title said I fear I’d made HORRIBLE decision…before I changed it to the “update…”

http://tripawds…..-decision/

Hope this helps!

Computer acting up so will write more later. Just wanted to get this to you!

Much love!

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

Maryland
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8 December 2015 - 4:42 am
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Hi Bacon Family,

Our Ellie was maybe a year younger than Bacon and she was a rear amp, but I’ll chime in anyway.

Everything you’ve said seems completely consistent w/ our experience. I think you answered your own question—it is still so very very early. The period immediately after amputation is by far the worst. But from your description, Bacon is doing well. He’s eating. He’s standing. He’s trying to get up. And most importantly, he’s rid of the pain from that bad leg. Recovery will take some time and there will definitely be good days and bad but he’ll make progress each day. 

I would not worry about the lack of poo. As you’ve probably read, the pain killers can often constipate them. Also at this stage, they’re probably trying to avoid squatting since they feel so weak and disoriented. Ellie also had a lot of post-amp weakness. It seemed she’d take a few hops and then her remaining rear leg would just sort of crumple. So I would not worry about Bacon’s unsteadiness. He’s working muscles in new and different ways and it takes time to adjust.

Most important at this stage is to make sure he has non-slip flooring and that you’re keeping ahead of the pain w/ his meds. I think keeping a journal is a great idea, especially if more than one person is giving meds. If he needs to go up or down stairs (to go outside) he’ll probably need help at first. But he really should be doing nothing more than resting and eating right now.

The most important thing though is to remember why you did this. He could not have continued like he was. You may be surprised at just how rambunctious he is now that the pain of that leg is gone. 

Denise, Bill and Angel Ellie.

Active 10+ Pyr mix suddenly came up lame with ACL tear in left rear leg. Scheduled for a TPLO but final pre-op x-rays indicated a small suspicious area, possibly OSA, which could have caused the ACL tear. Surgeon opened the knee for TPLO but found soft bone. Biopsy came back positive for OSA. Became a Tripawd 9/18/14. Carbo6 with Cerenia and Fluids. Pain free and living in the moment. Crossed the Bridge on 7/12/15 after probable spread of cancer to her cervical spine. A whole lifetime of memories squeezed into 10 months. Here's her story: Eloise

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9 December 2015 - 7:53 pm
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benny55 said
Hi Bacon and his humans! Just goi g to give you the link (hopefull) to my first post here six days after amputation. The original title said I fear I’d made HORRIBLE decision…before I changed it to the “update…”

http://tripawds…..-decision/

Hope this helps!

Computer acting up so will write more later. Just wanted to get this to you!

Much love!

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

Thank you Sally et al :).  I am so happy to have this site. I truly find comfort in reading each experience.  It is good to know others have through or been through what we are experiencing.  

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9 December 2015 - 7:56 pm
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T

annapyr said
Hi Bacon Family,

Our Ellie was maybe a year younger than Bacon and she was a rear amp, but I’ll chime in anyway.

Everything you’ve said seems completely consistent w/ our experience. I think you answered your own question—it is still so very very early. The period immediately after amputation is by far the worst. But from your description, Bacon is doing well. He’s eating. He’s standing. He’s trying to get up. And most importantly, he’s rid of the pain from that bad leg. Recovery will take some time and there will definitely be good days and bad but he’ll make progress each day. 

I would not worry about the lack of poo. As you’ve probably read, the pain killers can often constipate them. Also at this stage, they’re probably trying to avoid squatting since they feel so weak and disoriented. Ellie also had a lot of post-amp weakness. It seemed she’d take a few hops and then her remaining rear leg would just sort of crumple. So I would not worry about Bacon’s unsteadiness. He’s working muscles in new and different ways and it takes time to adjust.

Most important at this stage is to make sure he has non-slip flooring and that you’re keeping ahead of the pain w/ his meds. I think keeping a journal is a great idea, especially if more than one person is giving meds. If he needs to go up or down stairs (to go outside) he’ll probably need help at first. But he really should be doing nothing more than resting and eating right now.

The most important thing though is to remember why you did this. He could not have continued like he was. You may be surprised at just how rambunctious he is now that the pain of that leg is gone. 

Denise, Bill and Angel Ellie.

Thank you Denise,Bill and Angel Ellie.  How long did you have with Ellie after her surgery?  I am new to this community so I am learning that “Angel” is referring to a furkid that has passed.  Forgive me if she has not.  

Virginia




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9 December 2015 - 8:22 pm
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Rebecca, sorry I’m having to make my reply a screenshot. As you may know, we are having trouble getting logged out when we hit submit replies so we “copy” or do screenshots before we hit reply. Anyway…get out your magnifying glass!

Screenshot_2015-12-09-22-10-10_zpshwpbddds.jpgImage Enlarger

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

Maryland
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10 December 2015 - 4:03 am
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We had 10 months post-amp with Ellie. She had OSA. The vast majority of that time was good too! We did chemo, and she handled that pretty well, with only a little dip in appetite and energy a few days post-chemo (like clockwork). After amputation, she was pretty much our same ol’ Ellie. So I would not worry that Bacon’s personality will change! I do get a teensy bit jealous when I read other folks having survival times + 1 year. I wish Ellie’s time could have been longer but no matter how long you get, it will never be enough. 

I’ve seen your update now w/ your notes about how Bacon is doing post-amp. Sounds good! One caution—they often have a period when the hospital meds finally get out of their system and all of a sudden they’re progress will come to a screeching halt. So don’t worry too much if that is the next thing that happens.

Denise, Bill and Angel Ellie (and Toby Two Toes too!)

Active 10+ Pyr mix suddenly came up lame with ACL tear in left rear leg. Scheduled for a TPLO but final pre-op x-rays indicated a small suspicious area, possibly OSA, which could have caused the ACL tear. Surgeon opened the knee for TPLO but found soft bone. Biopsy came back positive for OSA. Became a Tripawd 9/18/14. Carbo6 with Cerenia and Fluids. Pain free and living in the moment. Crossed the Bridge on 7/12/15 after probable spread of cancer to her cervical spine. A whole lifetime of memories squeezed into 10 months. Here's her story: Eloise

Virginia




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26 January 2016 - 9:30 pm
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Any updates?

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

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3 March 2016 - 5:51 pm
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I’mbenny55 said
Any updates?

Hi. It has been a long time since I have checked in. Bacon had his 4th of 6th chemo tx this past Friday (2/26/2016). It has been up and down with how he has felt. Worst response was this past one. He vomited bile twice the night of his 4th chemo tx and would not eat much at all until this morning. Last night we took him into our regular vet because of his refusing to eat. A blood test revealed a very high white blood count (only 5 days after chemo) and low red blood cells. Bloodwork prior to chemo revealed low wbc. Other than the bloodwork, the vet said he looked good. He prescribed a medication that would coat his stomach (Sucralfate) and changed his Pepcid (which he takes daily) to Prilosec. The vet thought he may have developed a stomach ulcer. Both the local and msu vet were pleased that the bloodwork revealed his bone marrow was intact. His liver enzymes were low but that is not alarming them. I’m alarmed enough for the three of us I guess. 

He ate all three meals today with minimal coaxing. He also played with a stuffed toy just a few minutes ago. Between chemo txs Bacon is full of life. It can be depressing as he just starts to feel really good and he has to go back for another tx and another week of not feeling well. I still feel we did the right thing by moving forward with chemo and I do not regret even one minute of deciding to amputate the source of his pain. Seeing how he is the week before chemo makes me long for his last tx. 

For those thinking about amputation: Bacon lost 10 lbs as a result of his amputation. That was just from the limb removal. He has lost two pounds since this past Friday but had not lost any weight since the initial weight loss. He has gone to physical therapy once a week (except the week following chemo txs when he is too tired) since January. I highly recommend PT. We take him to the Animal Neurology and Rehab Clinic in Commerce Twp, MI. There he worked on core strengthening abd endurance via obstacle course work and the underwater treadmill. Due to logistics we will begin a second round of PT at the Animal Rehab Facility (ARF) in Dexter, MI. I will let you know how that goes. 

We also bought Bacon a big dog stroller . He prefers we call it his shuttle as he says he is not a baby. We are conditioning him now to being willing to get into it as independently as possible. He is able to leash walk around one city block fairly easily. It takes him between 9-12 minutes. He could easily do that twice per day if enough time was given between walks. We will take the stroller with us and put him in when he is tired so our other Golden can go longer. 

We have to be mindful of Bacon’s feet. He has always been a tenderfoot even with all of his legs. There is now increased pressure on his right back leg so the pads can take a beating. We have to keep the hair trimmed on all his paws to prevent slipping. We bought him the balloon-like “shoes” for things like trips to MSU where he will be walking on slippery surfaces but we quickly found he slipped more with them on because they get a powdery residue in them and lose their traction . We just make sure to have his help-me-up harness on in places like that and keep a hold of him. Other than flooring issues, endurance issues, and difficulty with stairs he is our same Bacon. His personality has not changed one bit. 

On November 29, 2015 he was given three months to live and in nearly unbearable pain. He is now pain free and alive. I will post the pictures of rehab as soon as we figure out how. For some reason my phone makes the files huge. Even clipping the videos down doesn’t help. But, if we can get them up on the site we will. 

I will check in later. Thank you for checking in on us. 

Bacon’s mom. 

Michigan
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3 March 2016 - 6:19 pm
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Murphy also had his surgery and chemo done out at MSU.  I just love Dr. Swanson!  She laughs every time I take Murphy out there because not much has changed and he’s far surpassed everyone’s expectations.  Murphy was 7 when he had his surgery and he just turned 10 in January.  It sounds like Bacon is doing fairly well.  We also use the Pawz boots when we go out to MSU, since the floor is so slippery.

Donna

Donna, Glenn & Murphy 

Murphy had his right front leg amputated due to histiocytic sarcoma at 7 years old. He survived 4 years, 2 months & 1 week, only to be taken by hemangiosarcoma at 11 1/2 years 6/12/17  
Read about Murphy's Life on Three Legs

Donna.png

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